It is lights out for the James Webb Space Telescope but in a good way.
I feel better about this than I did about the “shake-test“!
After completion of its vibration and acoustic testing in March, the James Webb Space Telescope – JWST – is shown here undergoing a detailed ‘lights out’ inspection in one of NASA’s cleanrooms at the Goddard Space Flight Center.
This is a special type of visual inspection to check for any forms of contamination. Both bright white LEDs and UV lights are used in order to better search for possible contamination, with the lights inside the cleanroom switched off to improve the contrast.
The low lighting means the image had to be taken with a longer than normal exposure time. This makes the technicians appear somewhat ghostly as they moved about the cleanroom during the exposure.
The image shows the segmented and gold-coated primary mirror of the telescope, which has a diameter of about 6.5 m when unfolded. It consists of 18 hexagonal segments, which will work together as one gigantic state-of-the-art mirror.
In order to fit inside the Ariane 5 rocket that will boost it into space, some segments will be folded, which will then open in orbit.
By the end of April, the telescope and the instruments will be shipped from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland to Johnson’s Space Center in Texas where, over the course of the summer, it will go through final cryogenic-temperature testing.
JWST is joint project of NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency, and is scheduled for launch in October 2018 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.4\
I remember my days of working in a clean-room, nothing this huge though of course. So the James Webb Space Telescope in one step closer to launch. At the moment we are looking at a 2018 launch from French Guiana at The Spaceport – Arianespace
There is a very nice JWST website with webcams and a nice 3D tour of the telescope.
and not just any telescope, this is the James Webb Telescope.
Image: NASA/Chris Gunn
This from NASA (and Rob Gutro):
The primary mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope consisting of 18 hexagonal mirrors looks like a giant puzzle piece standing in the massive clean room of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Appropriately, combined with the rest of the observatory, the mirrors will help piece together puzzles scientists have been trying to solve throughout the cosmos.
Webb’s primary mirror will collect light for the observatory in the scientific quest to better understand our solar system and beyond. Using these mirrors and Webb’s infrared vision scientists will peer back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe. Unprecedented infrared sensitivity will help astronomers to compare the faintest, earliest galaxies to today’s grand spirals and ellipticals, helping us to understand how galaxies assemble over billions of years. Webb will see behind cosmic dust clouds to see where stars and planetary systems are being born. It will also help reveal information about atmospheres of planets outside our solar system, and perhaps even find signs of the building blocks of life elsewhere in the universe.
The Webb telescope was mounted upright after a “center of curvature” test conducted at Goddard. This initial center of curvature test ensures the integrity and accuracy, and test will be repeated later to verify those same properties after the structure undergoes launch environment testing. In the photo, two technicians stand before the giant primary mirror.